While it may not carry the same prestige as the England Women’s Super League or the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States, the Australian W-League is one of the most exciting competitions in the women’s game and played a key role in developing some of today’s household names in world football. The likes of global stars like Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord both got their start in the W-League and are now integral players for their respective teams in the WSL.
Australian players make up 5% of total player minutes in the 2020/21 Women’s Super League so far, the highest proportion of any nation outside the United Kingdom and the fourth-highest of any country overall (England – 48%, Scotland – 8% and Wales – 6%). Here we hone in on two key Australian stars making their names in the WSL, and look at what lessons we can see form their clubs.
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Two of Australia’s standout players are playing starring roles in the WSL. Sam Kerr (Chelsea – 7) and Caitlin Foord (Arsenal – 6) have scored the most and second-most goals respectively from big chances in the ongoing campaign.
Foord has also been a creative specialist – delivering five assists this WSL season, 3.3 more than her Expected Assists figure suggests she should have. Only her fellow Arsenal teammate Katie McCabe (5.0) has a bigger overperformance in this regard.
Kerr’s hometown team in the W-League is Perth Glory. The Glory were the queens in the 2019/20 W-League season at getting off to a quickfire start in the second-halves of games, scoring six goals during this time – more than any other side. Indeed, their 13 second-half goals overall were only bettered by Melbourne City FC (16) and Western Sydney Wanderers FC (14).
W-League 2019-20 (46th-60th Minute):
Team Goals % of Total Goals Perth Glory 6 32% Brisbane Roar FC 5 23% Melbourne City FC 5 15% Melbourne Victory 3 12% Sydney FC 3 14% Western Sydney Wanderers FC 3 12% Newcastle Jets 2 17% Canberra United 1 8% Adelaide United 0 0%
Foord’s home team in the W-League is Sydney FC. One of two sides to become league champions more than twice (Melbourne City FC x4), the Sky Blues (x3) were defensive fiends in 2020. No side had a higher share of retaining possession after making a tackle (68.4%) while they also led the competition in interceptions (209) and possession won (1,073 times).
Possession Winning Tackle Rate, W-League 2019-20:
Team Games Possession Winning Tackles Possession Winning Tackle Rate (%) Sydney FC 14 184 68.4% Canberra United 12 154 67.3% Melbourne City FC 14 167 63.0% Adelaide United 12 147 62.8% Brisbane Roar FC 12 162 62.8% Perth Glory 12 161 60.3% Melbourne Victory 13 164 60.1% Western Sydney Wanderers FC 13 155 59.9% Newcastle Jets 12 149 56.9%
The defending W-League champions are Melbourne City FC. The only team in competition history to complete the Premiership-Championship ‘double’ in multiple seasons, City marched to W-League supremacy last season through their precision in the final third of the pitch – their passing accuracy in this area (72%) was more than nine percent greater than any other team in the competition. They also had a staggering 124 more touches in the opposition box than any other side in the campaign (480).
W-League 2019-20 Passing Accuracy:
|Team||Games||Passes ending in Final Third||Passing Accuracy, ending in Final Third (%)|
|Melbourne City FC||14||2,471||72.0%|
|Brisbane Roar FC||12||1,684||62.3%|
|Western Sydney Wanderers FC||13||1,391||59.2%|
One W-League team that has been making waves in pre-season is Melbourne Victory with the signing of Australian national team legend Lisa De Vanna. The Matildas’ sharpshooter links up with a team that already boasts considerable firepower – Victory had the best shot conversion rate (13%) of any team in the 2019/20 W-League.
W-League 2019-20 Shot Conversion:
Team Games Total Shots Shot Conversion Rate (%) Melbourne Victory 13 185 13.0% Melbourne City FC 14 255 12.9% Perth Glory 12 149 12.8% Western Sydney Wanderers FC 13 219 11.4% Sydney FC 14 206 10.7% Brisbane Roar FC 12 238 9.2% Newcastle Jets 12 131 9.2% Adelaide United 12 160 7.5% Canberra United 12 179 7.3%
Will another team step up to halt the Melbourne City juggernaut? Which new players will emerge, perhaps joining their Australian peers in future European adventures? These questions and many more await us this coming Sunday when the new season gets underway.
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